In 2007, Ed Susman, a contributing writer for MedPage Today, had topped the scale at 293. His doctor “implored me to lose weight because he had no more medications that could help me with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.” That’s when he told his doctor he had enrolled in a clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of an experimental diet pill. The drug turned out to be lorcaserin, later sold under the brand name Belviq.
Susman continued taking the drug until January 2009, and lost what he calls “a life-altering 55 pounds.” For that, he was grateful and spoke highly of the medication’s benefits. In June 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval of Belviq for long-term weight management in obese adults and overweight adults with at least one weight-related comorbidity, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
By 2012, Susman had gained some of his weight back. His doctor wrote him a prescription for Belviq. But Susman never filled it because it was too expensive.
“I would have liked to have taken the drug for an extended period of time,” he said. “But considering recent events, one should be careful for what one wishes.”
Susman heard that on Feb. 13, 2020, that the FDA called for the removal of Belviq and Belviq XL (an extended release version of the drug approved in 2016) because long-term studies showed patients taking Belviq had an increased occurrence of cancer. “A wide range of cancers was reported,” he said, “with several different types of cancer occurring more frequently in the lorcaserin group, including pancreatic, colorectal, and lung.”
Susman was able to get his weight back under control without Belviq, but he’s left to wonder if he’s still at risk for developing cancer from his Belviq use years ago. “So I wonder for cancer due to lorcaserin.”
Roger Smith, Ryan Duplechin and Melissa Prickett, attorneys with Beasley Allen Law firm, are currently investigating individual cases of pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer in patients who have been treated with Belviq.